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Oregon homeless student nos. down slightly, move rural


Nearly 22,000 students in Oregon public schools were homeless during the 2017-18 school year — a slight drop in both percentage and number, the Oregon Department of Education reported recently.

“Counts of homeless students in high-rent districts are dropping, while many rural districts are seeing increases, as families move seeking more affordable housing,” according to the draft report by the Oregon Department of Education, released last week.

In this case, homeless youth are defined as those who “lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence,” meaning that could be living in an emergency shelter, be sharing housing with others or live in motels, tents or trailers.

Bend-La Pine comes in No. 10 among the 10 school districts with the highest number of homeless students — 467, or 2.5 percent of the total enrollment last school year..

But no Central Oregon district makes the list of those with the highest percentage of homeless students, led by the Mapleton School District, whose 53 homeless students represent more than 30 percent of the total school population.

“While districts with fewer students often have ‘volatile’ data (that can change greatly from year to year), note that the districts with the highest percentages of homeless students in the state are mainly rural and some distance from the I-5 corridor,” the report said.

“Increasing homelessness in Oregon and other western states is attributed to a lack of sufficient affordable housing to meet the demands of a growing and increasingly mobile population,” it said.

Broken down by county, Deschutes County had 882 homeless students last school year, while Crook had 92 and Jefferson 137.

According to the group Stable Homes for Oregon Families, there’s been a 20 percent rise in the number of homeless students since the state began reporting the data in 2012.

They said only 60 percent of homeless students are on track to graduate, compared to 85 percent of students overall.

“Statewide tenant protections will stop no cause evictions and rent spikes that force children and families onto the streets, into their cars, or hopping from couch to couch,” the group said in a news release Tuesday. “Lawmakers must act in 2019. Families need protections and stability to stay housed, and students need homes to succeed in school.”

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